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What are the Signs of a Bad Alternator?

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Your car’s alternator is responsible for keeping the battery charged, so it is important to say the least. When this part goes bad, you won’t be able to start your car. There are a number of signs that you should be aware of. Learning about these things will help you avoid unnecessary expenditure and inconvenience.

1. Battery Indicator Light

If there is something wrong with your alternator, the little battery light on your dashboard might come on. While this is not always the case, it is something that you should look out for. If you see this light come on, you should take your car to a mechanic. This is not something that you want to simply ignore. The problem could be the alternator and not the battery itself, though it might be both.

2. Your Headlights Keep Dimming

A malfunctioning alternator can also cause fluctuations with the brightness of your headlights. You might notice your headlights becoming dim all of a sudden before they go back to normal. This can also apply to the interior dome lights and dash lights. These issues can even cause your lights to go out completely. Some people just notice flickering with their lights, which is also not uncommon with alternator problems.

3. Dead Battery

One of the more obvious signs of a bad alternator is a dead battery. If your battery is dead, you will hear that clicking noise when you try to start your car. It will not turn over, even when you turn the key in the ignition multiple times. If the alternator is not functioning properly, your battery will eventually run out of juice. Since your battery cannot charge itself, it needs the alternator to keep it going.

It won’t take long for the average mechanic to tell whether the problem is with your battery or alternator. In fact, you can figure this out by simply trying to jumpstart your car. If you still hear that clicking noise even after jumping it, the problem is most likely the alternator.

4. Loose Connections

AlternatorIt is possible that your dead battery is due to a loose connection of some kind. There might also be a cable that is broken. You can pop your hood to perform a visual inspection, but it could be hard to see. A mechanic will be able to tell if there are any problems with your alternator’s connections. This is usually a pretty easy and inexpensive fix, and it’s more common than you might think.

5. Belt Issues

A loose or broken belt can also be the cause of your car trouble. You should be able to see this pretty clearly when you look under the hood. You don’t need to be a mechanic to spot this particular issue. If the belt is simply loose, you will probably be able to reseat it without having to pay a professional. This is another fairly common reason for a dead battery. If a certain belt is not working properly, the alternator won’t be able to do its job. This results in a dead battery. A loose or deteriorated serpentine belt can be very problematic.

6. Odd Noises

You might notice some odd noises if you are having problems with your alternator. This can range from a high whining sound to a lower guttural noise, depending on the nature of the problem.

It is important that you take note of any strange sounds that your car makes. You’ll want to take it to your mechanic so they can figure out what is causing the noise. This is your vehicle’s way of warning you that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. Those who listen to these signs will save themselves a lot of money over time.

7. Problems with Power Windows

If you notice that your power windows are operating slower than usual, your alternator could be to blame. This also applies to the sunroof, if your vehicle has one. It is also possible that there is something wrong with the motor. It is more likely that the alternator is the cause of this problem if all of your windows have slowed. This part of your car can cause all sorts of frustrating electric issues.

8. You Can’t Start Your Car

A bad alternator can cause your car not to start altogether. It could also be due to a battery that is old and needs to be replaced. There are numerous ways that you can test your battery to see if it is functioning properly. The first thing that you should do is to jumpstart your car. This is the fastest and simplest way to narrow down the possible causes.

9. Burning Rubber Smell

If you are driving your car and smell burnt rubber, it might be because of a wire somewhere under the hood got scorched. This can happen when the alternator becomes too hot. An overheating alternator needs to be repaired or replaced immediately. The longer your drive with this issue, the worse it will become.

10. Stalling

When you are driving and your car suddenly stalls out, it is pretty obvious that something is wrong. The cause of this problem could be a bad alternator, though there are other plausible explanations. If your battery isn’t being charged, it will eventually die. If it keeps happening, you probably need to get either your alternator or battery replaced.

Final Thoughts

You will need to be aware of all these signs so you can get a better idea of what might be causing them. There are lots of different ways that a bad alternator can manifest itself. A lot of these symptoms can cause a lot of inconvenience, and they should be taken seriously. The longer you wait to get your car looked at by a mechanic, the worse off you will be. Alternators usually last for about seven years, which is less than the average life of a car. There is a good chance that you will need to get yours replaced at some point.

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